A writing professor once told me that sometimes writers needed to put down their pens, step away from their laptops, and get their butts in some comfy chairs and start reading. She argued that reading is the best way for writers to keep at their A-Game, because reading lets you see how others are telling their stories and handling the writing craft, both in the past and in the present. As a writer, reading can be a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I find a writer who I’m absolutely blown away by, because he/she is writing about content similar to mine and doing it in a way that I’ve a.) never thought of and b.) could never possibly do myself. Bret Easton Ellis is like that for me. And while I am awed and inspired during these experiences, I’m also disheartened because it makes me feel inadequate as a writer because I know that I could never write a story in the way that this other writer did (hence the love-hate relationship). Fortunately, I eventually remember that I’m not actually trying to be like these other writers, I’m trying to be my own writer, and so these thoughts of inadequacy quickly fade into thoughts of “yeah, you did a good job with that story, now I’m going to write my own story in my own way and you know what? It’s going to be good too.”
So, long story short, I make sure I spend a good amount of my free time reading in order to get the creative juices flowing and keep myself motivated towards that ultimate goal of the completed novel. Alright, enough babbling, time to get to What I’m Reading this week!
Like I mentioned in this week’s Zimmy Sunday post, my current goal is to finish the last three books in George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve been wanting to finish this series for a while now, mostly because I spent the majority of last year working at book-to-film adaptation agencies down in L.A. so I’m very interested in how HBO is adapting this series into such a successful show. I’d also heard that in book two (A Clash of Kings) the book series and TV series start deviating a bit, and then in book three the differences start getting very stark (get it? Stark, like the Starks of Winterfell? I know, I’m hilarious, I should go pro).
So far, I can say that this is true. I’m only 212 pages into A Storm of Swords, and, without spoiling anything, the differences between the book and Season 3 are already pretty drastic. Now, I’m usually that obnoxious person who goes ‘you have to keep true to the book when you adapt into film, don’t deviate at all unless you have to!’ which’s why I avoided watching the most recent Great Gatsby movie (I’m sorry, but rap and dub step were not a thing in the 1920s, so don’t have them in the trailer’s soundtrack). But this time I’m actually okay with the changes so far. It makes sense why certain elements were changed for the show (like changing character ages so that, for instance, Daenerys is in her late teens-early 20s in the first season when she marries Khal Drogo and gets pregnant, instead of 13-14 years old), and the changes are done in a way that, so far anyway, don’t change the overall story arch of the series, or the overall message/point. They don’t seem to be fundamentally changing the characters’ developments either, though there are a few details cut out for the show that I’m about 99% sure are going to pop up in season 4 because there’s no way you can really avoid them (and they’re super cool too). So, all in all, I’m a pretty happy camper with this series.
When I need to take a break from the Seven Kingdoms, I’ve been *very* slowly taking a gander at Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son and Truman Capote’s classic In Cold Blood. In case you didn’t know, The Orphan Master’s Son won this year’s Pulitzer’s Prize and is about a young man in North Korea who rises through state ranks only to risk it all for love. I haven’t read enough to say one way or another if it’s any good or not, but everyone I know who’s read it already is in love with it, so it’s going to be the first thing I read actively after I finish the GoT books.
In Cold Blood is a book that I’ve been trying to read for literally a year now. I’m not sure what it is, but every time I sit down to read it I only last 5-10 minutes before I go do something else. It could be the fact that it’s on my Kindle Fire (I’m not a huge ebook reader, and very much prefer reading hardcopies of manuscripts), or it could be that the journalistic style doesn’t jive with me or that I just haven’t gotten to the good part yet, but either way, it’s definitely been a challenge for me. That said, though, it does have one of my all-time favorite paragraphs in it, which is the main reason why I haven’t given up on it just yet:
If there’s somebody loose around here that wants to cut my throat, I wish him luck. What difference does it make? It’s all the same in eternity. Just remember: If one bird carried every grain of sand, grain by grain, across the ocean, by the time he got them all on the other side, that would only be the beginning of eternity. So blow your nose.
Sends shivers down my spine every time I read it. Good on you, Capote, good on you.
Apart from these, I also found two little gems online this past week that I feel obligated to share with you, dear reader, just in case you missed them. The first is a 2-part mimodrama (which, according to Google, is “a play or drama in which action is carried on dumb-show, often to music) written by Albert Camus that was recently translated by Ryan Bloom and published in the New Yorker called, appropriately, “The Life of an Artist: a Mimodrama in Two Parts.” The second is an absolutely love essay published yesterday in Salon magazine by Joyce Maynard about home entitled “My Home on the Dead-End Road.” Both are very quick reads and I’d highly, highly recommend them if you’ve got some free time and are sick of looking at cat memes on Reddit.
That’s all for this week, back to Westeros for me. Happy reading!